Juwan Howard replacements, coaching candidates

Michigan basketball’s dismissal of Juwan Howard following the 2023 season makes it the second major sport to lose their head coach after Jim Harbaugh’s departure to the NFL. The circumstances, I’ll admit, are drastically different, but Michigan sports will have a very different look next season.

Howard had an up-and-down career in his return to coach at Michigan. He made two NCAA tournament runs, including being listed as a one-seed in 2021 and making it to the Elite Eight. He followed that up with a Sweet 16 run in 2022 but failed to get into the dance in 2023 or 2024. The 2023-2024 season was one of the worst in program history as Michigan won just eight games and had a couple of off-the-court issues that made headlines.

Here are seven candidates to replace Juwan Howard at the head of the program.

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Collins has led the Wildcats to an impressive season finishing fourth in the Big Ten and landing as a nine seed in March Madness. Collins has had an up-and-down career at Northwestern but is coming off consecutive 21+ win seasons and tournament berths. He could certainly benefit from a change of scenery and the boosted recruiting that Michigan offers.

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Moser famously led Loyola Chicago on one of the greatest Cinderella runs of all time before falling the Final Four. Moser spent eight years at Loyola Chicago before joining Oklahoma in 2021 and compiling a 54-45 record over a three-year span. The Sooner’s 20-12 record in 2023 failed to get them a tournament bid, but Moser did an admirable job and could be slated for another step up the school hierarchy should he choose.

John Beilein is introduced during halftime as Michigan honors the 10-year anniversary of the 2013 run to the Final Four and national title game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.

Ah yes, the returning legend. Beilein was Michigan’s head coach from 2007 to 2019 and coached the Wolverines to two Big Ten Titles and two NCAA tournament title games but came up short on each occasion. Beilein was terrific during his time in Ann Arbor and might be the medicine needed to return the Wolverines to basketball glory. Since his departure from Ann Arbor, Beilin has been an NBA coach, taught a class at the University of Michigan, and currently serves as an assistant on the Pistons. If Beilein is open to returning to a head coaching position, Michigan makes the most sense.

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If Michigan wants a current winner, Smart is a great option. Currently coaching at Marquette, Smart has led the Golden Eagles to three consecutive tournament appearances including their current run as a two-seed. Smart has also won the Big 12, Big East, NIT, and made it to the Final Four in his coaching career. Bringing Smart to Michigan would be a massive win and could be the best long-term option as he is just 46 years old.

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes disagrees with a ref during their quarterfinal game of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament against Mississippi State at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 15, 2024.

Landing Barnes from Tennessee would be a massive win. Barnes is one of the better coaches nationally and has won nearly half a dozen conference Coach of the Year awards during his lengthy career. Additionally, Barnes has experience turning around big programs with his historic success at both Texas and Tennessee. If Michigan can convince him that the ceiling is higher in Ann Arbor, it would leave Volunteer fans shocked.

Butler head coach Thad Matta reacts to a call be refs during a game between the Butler Bulldogs and the Seton Hall Pirates and the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Michigan currently employs Ohio State’s former running backs coach, so why not take one of their old basketball coaches as well? Matta has Butler in the NIT currently but is a four-time Big Ten champion with a certain school down south. He’s got a career win percentage over .700 and understands how to win not just in a major conference, but in the Big Ten itself.

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A Michigan associate head coach for ten years during the 1990s, Dutcher has plenty of experience in Ann Arbor. In fact, he was one of the key pieces in assembling the Fab Five and has played a crucial role in the rise of San Diego State basketball to its current standard. Of course, the Aztecs are a five seed in this year’s tournament and making it to the national title game in 2023. Dutcher is the type of program leader who can take advantage of the recruiting benefits at Michigan and return the Wolverines to glory.


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